The Tigers And Rafael Soriano


It’s the story of a big money reliever, an aging owner with a win at all costs attitude, and the business relationship between two men. One of those men is owner Mike Ilitch, and one is super agent Scott Boras. I am surprised that we didn’t see this coming. Apparently Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has reached out to Mr. Boras to discuss the possibility of making Rafael Soriano a Detroit Tiger.  Just when we as fans and writers think the Tigers are just about done spending money, rumors like this re-affirm that idea that the aging Tigers owner is willing to do anything to win a World Series.

That’s certainly commendable, even if it shows a lack of concern for the future payroll of the Tigers franchise.

Now, I don’t want to jump the gun at this point. A conversation certainly doesn’t mean a signing. I’m not expecting the Tigers to sign Soriano. However, it would be irresponsible of us to just ignore it. We have seen this before from the Tigers owner and Scott Boras. The Tigers have signed multiple Boras clients to big money deals, almost to the point where it seems the Tigers are Boras’ go to team. That might enrage some fans, but it shouldn’t. Boras is just a real good advocate for his players, and if the Tigers wanted to go another route, they could always do so. The thing is, Boras represents some real good players, and having a good working relationship with him, like the Tigers seem to have, is certainly not a bad thing.

When it comes down to it, Rafael Soriano is a real good pitcher.

Oct 11, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano (29) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning of game four of the 2012 ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

I want to be up front. I am not a big believer in throwing a ton of free agency dollars at relievers. Even real good ones like Soriano. I tend to believe that when you put a bunch of financial resources into a bullpen, it stops teams from using those resources on other parts of the team that are more important. Not only that, the very nature of relievers tends to be that they are up and down, and teams are often just as likely to get good performance from a no name pen as they are one filled with three or four big name free agents.

But my concerns about the use of resources, or anyone’s concerns really, don’t come into play with the Tigers right now. Mike Ilitch has repeatedly shown that money is no object right now, so it’s hard to believe that the Tigers wouldn’t be legitimate contenders to sign Soriano right now. The truth of the matter is there is a need.

There has been some talk of the Tigers giving the 2013 closer job to prospect Bruce Rondon. While Rondon is a very talented young man, he is a young man. The Tigers recent history suggests that they are looking for veterans to close out their games and Soriano fits the bill. Since 2005, Soriano has been real consistent for a reliever, posting an ERA above 3.00 only once, and that was his first year with the Yankees when he had some injury issues. Over the course of his career, Soriano strikes out more than a batter per inning, and has a lifetime ERA of 2.78. Those are impressive numbers, and for a team that is expected to contend for a World Series title, a closer of Soriano’s stature while not an absolute must, is a good thing to have.

Again, conversations don’t mean a thing. I am sure there are a lot of teams GM’s, or even owners contact players of Soriano’s caliber and their agents. However, when Mike Ilitch reaches out to Scott Boras, we can all see the smoke, and we just know that there is some fire there.

Bottom line is, Rafael Soriano would improve the Tigers roster, and at this point that is all I care about. My concerns about payroll and the Tigers future ability to keep players be damned. Push all those chips to the center of the table Mr. Ilitch…

Next up…Josh Hamilton.